Today we visit the Museum of Discipleship. We’ll take a stroll through the displays showcasing the legends of the gospel proclamation. Each room houses priceless treasures belonging to the heirs of salvation. Of particular interest today will be our visit to the Discipling the Nations gallery.
You’ll notice, as we make our way to our destination, the various hallways of honor. The Wall of Courage contains many of our Bible heroes. Joshua, David, Gideon, Moses, Joseph, Paul and Noah are just a few of those who served and witnessed for God with courage and honor during difficult times.
We’ll also pass by the Wall of Women of Valor. There we will see Mary the mother of Jesus as well as Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Ruth, Abigail and, of course, Queen Esther and many more. Women have always played important roles in the spreading of the gospel and providing leadership when leadership was most desperately needed.
You’ll notice as we get further into the center of the museum an increase in the brightness of the lights. It’s the purest light found anywhere. To some it’s blinding, and to others it removes the scales that have blinded their eyes. The throbbing you feel as we enter this prized area we like to call the Heartbeat of the Gospel.
Here you’ll find the life of Christ on full display. His sinless life attesting to the power of faith and obedience to God is plain to see. A special section on His compassion showing how He has been touched with the feelings of our infirmity revealing His interactions with men to lighten their burdens. The Salvation area is breathtaking. It shows with great clarity the price it took to rescue man. Pay special attention to the eternal risk that was taken by the Son of God.
We could spend all of our time here but we want to cover the early church of Acts where members served as role models for the Discipling the Nations display. No other period in the existence of the church is so full of instructions for evangelizing the world.
This gallery is divided into two main sections; the life of the early church members, and their message. Notice the placard above this section that reads “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
Here you’ll find outlined the principles that shaped and influenced the early church which were key to its success.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. John 17:21-23
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:44-47
Note how the striving for greatness had been removed from their desires. Each only wanted what was best for the other, and this shift in their thinking allowed the Holy Spirit to do for them things they could have never done for themselves.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. Acts 2:14-17
The Scriptures was their foundation. No cunningly devised fables. Eloquence and learning stood subservient to the wisdom and power of the Word of God. It was a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their paths.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is, to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Acts 2:38, 39
Side issues were just that – side issues. The prominence of their message was Jesus the Christ, the Saviour from sin. Paul said it best when he wrote these words to the church at Corinth, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. Every other truth found its center in Christ. The truth and power of Christ’s words “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” John12:32, was the focus of the early church’s message.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:5, 6
Theirs was no exclusionary gospel. To whomsoever would accept it the invitation was given. Christ had broken down the wall of caste, rank and race. He invited those that dwelt in the shadows of society as well as those that feasted on life’s best. There was no more Jew or Gentile, male or female. The early church got this.
The inspired gospel writer Ellen White sums up this experience beautifully. Speaking of the early church she writes,
“They could speak the name of Jesus with assurance; for was He not their Friend and Elder Brother? Brought into close communion with Christ, they sat with Him in heavenly places. With what burning language they clothed their ideas as they bore witness for Him! Their hearts were surcharged with a benevolence so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled them to go to the ends of the earth, testifying to the power of Christ. They were filled with an intense longing to carry forward the work He had begun. They realized the greatness of their debt to heaven and the responsibility of their work. Strengthened by the endowment of the Holy Spirit, they went forth filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross. The Spirit animated them and spoke through them. The peace of Christ shone from their faces. They had consecrated their lives to Him for service, and their very features bore evidence to the surrender they had made.” Acts of the Apostles, pg 46
Well, our visit must come to a close now. You might like to know that they’re building a new wing for the church of 2014. Perhaps they’ll share your story there one day.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “Discipling the Nations” mean to you?
- Is it true that the church’s financial resources will determine the success of its evangelistic efforts? Explain your answer.
- What does unity mean to you?
- Do you agree that the primary responsibility for evangelism falls with those who are paid to evangelize? Why or why not?
- What would a church be like/act like/interact like if its message was fully Christ-centered?
- Does the lack of personal piety of the members diminish the effectiveness of the witness?
We close this week with the gospel commission of Jesus Christ. It’s as relevant today as it was when given thousands of years ago:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!